Monday, April 18, 2016

Keeping My Promises

A few days ago, when I finished taking stock of all the projects I have on the go, and those I have planned, I said I would go back to the project that is closest to being complete, then work my way forward. Never let it be said I don't keep my promises! So our journey begins with my project from Camp Mini Ha Ha 2015: my room box in a set of books that I call The Attic of Dorian Gray.

We were provided with the pre-cut gator board for making the actual insert, and a set of 7 books that had been cut as needed for the project. Five of the books had only the spines and tops left - they would fit over the top of the insert. One book was left with a right-hand cover and one with a left hand cover, to form the ends that also fit over the insert. Unfortunately, I didn't take any pictures during construction!!! In the picture below, I tried to produce a diagram of how the centre 5 books were cut. The end books were cut the same except a cover was left on the ends. (Please ignore my squiggly lines - the books really were cut straight - I just can't draw a straight line, I guess).

We then started by building the insert so we could try the books over them to get a good fit. We taped the books together in the order we wanted them, For most of us, we had to remove some pages to get the books to fit tightly enough over the room box insert. Once that was settled, we determined where our front window should go and traced around it, in preparation for cutting the opening. For those of us who used the large window in the front, it involved cutting complete pieces from the three centre books, then, for the book on either side of these centre three, we cut half way through horizontally at the level of the top and bottom of the window, then cut vertically between these two points. I hope this makes sense to you. It does to me! Once everything fit the way we thought it should, we then used glue, a lot of glue, to coat the tops and cut edges of the book pages. The glue seeped into the pages a little and made it so the pages were glued securely together. These were left to dry well. Then, using Wellbond glue, we glued the books together, used very thick elastic to hold them tightly, and left them to dry overnight. Once dry, most of us aged the pages using a wet tea bag. Some also aged the books themselves through sanding and staining (before they were glued together). I didn't age the books, just the pages.

In my project, I made the small window in the back extend outside the room box because I needed all the floor space I could get! I printed out a picture of a roof-top view to put outside the small window, and installed LED lights, hidden by the edge of the window frame, to simulate daylight. So, at the end of Camp, I had the attic pretty much done and Dorian's picture inside, along with other attic-like pieces.

Remember the painting I told you about from "The Picture of Dorian Gray"? The one he kept in his attic so it would age and he wouldn't? Well, this is how I interpreted it. This was one of the many versions I found online when I googled this Oscar Wilde book. I printed it, framed it and placed it on an easel.

As I've mentioned before, I am a big lover of using "perspective" in a project. Because the attic space was small, I wanted to have the illusion of more space. I had a mirror cut the depth of the insert and installed it at an angle. I installed a door frame over top of the mirror and then filled in the rest of the wall with "lath and plaster" like you would find in at attic. By using the angled mirror, it actually appears that there is another room beyond the one where Dorian Gray stores his painting. I then applied lath and plaster to the other end wall, wide wood "planks" on the back wall and the floor, and bare wall joists on the back wall.

Although there is access through the right end of my books, I did not permanently install my back wall because I feel it will make it easier for getting inside to clean it or make changes. When I brought it home at the end of Camp, I was still not satisfied with having the back of it look so unfinished, with the wires for the lighting showing, and the batteries just laying on the table top. I was determined I would find a way to clean that up a bit.

So - today I started by removing everything inside. The pieces had just been placed using tacky putty to keep them in place and, it seemed that every time I moved the darn thing, two or three pieces would fall over or shift. I decided I would glue everything down permanently and be finished with it. The following pictures show you some of my inside work. Again - I apologize for the quality of several of these photos but, hopefully, you will be able to get an idea of how it came together.

You can see the lath and plaster wall, both on the short wall on one end, and on the wall on the other end that is reflected in the mirror I installed, hopefully making it look like another room beyond. Then, I emptied everything out and got to work. I sanded a swath from the "other room" to in front of where the picture would be standing, and used black pastel chalks along the edges of this area, and cream to highlight the centre, to make it look like there was a path worn on the floor from Dorian coming to the attic so often to check the progress of his picture. Then I started to glue things back in place again.

I must say that my two favourite things in my attic (and also the most expensive - splurges worth every penny, in my opinion) were the bare bulb light fixture (after all, what other kind of light would you have in an attic), and the wonderful spider on a web, created by Elizabeth Reid, which I installed in the corner of the window.

Tomorrow I will share some more pictures of the progress I made today, the solution I came up with for the "unfinished" outside back wall, and hopefully, whatever work I manage to fit in tomorrow. I hope you'll like what you see - I had fun doing it and still like the actual project itself. TTFN!!


  1. Your determination to finish projects in some semblance of order (unlike how I tend to butterfly) is certainly admirable! This is a wonderful project and with all the photos it's great to see how it went together. What fun...a miniature spider! The painting, bare light bulb, the lath/plaster and a well walked 'path' add to the story line perfectly. Love the idea of using a mirror to give the illusion of a space beyond what you can see...the miniature hobby is all about creating realistic illusion.

    1. Well, Alayne - let's just reserve judgement on my plan of attack until I see how long I can stick to it. Knowing me, it won't be long before I hear another project calling my name! - Marilyn D.